Grass Fed Bacon Cheese Meatloaf

Bacon Cheese MeatloafAs a girl, I remember having meatloaf sandwiches in my lunchbox. It was stuffed in there in between my thermos and my much coveted Devil Dog. I was a weird kid. I hated the peanut butter and fluff sandwiches most of my friends had. It must have been something about the white, sticky fluff that stuck all over their cheeks in little peaks and valleys that made my stomach churn. Or maybe it was the smell of peanut butter wafting from their sticky cheeks. Whatever it was, the signature sandwich of childhood was not my sandwich of choice. I’m sure my friends thought my sandwich was odd, but I ate it with gusto, and not a crumb or smudge of catsup on my cheek! I loved those meatloaf sandwiches. I haven’t had a meat loaf sandwich since I picked one up at Duckworth’s Beach Gourmet last year. I could write a paragraph on that sandwich alone! These days, a crusty piece of toasted sour dough bread seems like a better choice for a sandwich and I wouldn’t be caught dead buying a Hostess snack cake.

I used to buy meat shares to supply our family with locally raised meat. We would pay our friends, Lynne and Jeff Urquhart of Ironbrook Farm in NH, to raise a cow for a  year on their farm, and at the end of the year we would split the meat and store it in our basement freezer. That meat would last us for months. Nowadays, I buy local, pasture-raised meat from Appleton Farms, Tendercrop Farms, or Miles Smith Farm in NH. Buying a meat share from a farm means you pay a set fee for so many pounds of meat, usually 20-40 pounds. My last 20 pound meat share from Miles Smith Farm in New Hampshire was composed of :

Kabobs/Stew Beef – approx 3 lbs

London Broil steaks – approx 2 lbs

Delmonico/T-Bone/Porterhouse – approx 2 lbs

Loin Strip/Sirloin Steaks – approx 2 lbs

Eye Round/Top Round/Sirloin Roasts – approx 3 lbs

Ground Beef – approx 10 lbs

Getting a meat share is similar to being part of a CSA.  You don’t choose the cuts of meat, you get ALL the cuts from the butcher. And, you have to be creative when you have lots of ground beef. I started making meatloaf after staring into the frozen abyss of my freezer and noticing that there were pounds and pounds of ground beef starting right back at me. I realized at that moment that I had been selecting all the prime cuts to cook with and unknowingly left all the frozen one-pound packages of lean ground beef.  Let’s face it, there’s only so many burgers and shepherd pies you can make! Remembering my meat loaf sandwiches of childhood and the spectacular one I had at Duckworth’s last year, I pulled out two pounds of ground beef and 1 pound of ground pork and began to work on my recipe. You’ll need to have scrupulously clean, polish free, short fingernails so you can up close and personal with your ingredients. Yes, you need to use your hands to combine the ingredients. My grandfather Pasquale taught me that you must get right in there and mix the ingredients with your hands. There’s no other way to make meatballs (or meatloaf). So get out your nail clippers, scrub your hands using soap and hot water, and get mixing.

Using a meatloaf pan provides for more even heating and allows the fat to drain off.

Bacon-Cheese Meat Loaf


  • 2# lean ground beef
  • 1# lean ground pork
  • 8oz. cheddar, cubed (I used Cabot Extra Sharp or Kerrygold Cheddar)
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½C fresh breadcrumbs  (I crush saltines)
  • 1t sea salt
  • 1t fresh ground pepper
  • 1t fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 1t fresh oregano, minced
  • 1T fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 slices of apple smoked nitrate-free bacon, cut in half



  • ½C low sugar catsup or organic agave sweetened catsup
  • 2T dijon mustard
  • 2T brown sugar
  • 1T worcestershire sauce

Directions: Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine the ground beef, ground pork, cheddar, eggs, breadcrumbs, sea salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, and parsley. Don’t be afraid to use your hands or use a large bowl mixer.

Add the cubed cheddar cheese and gently mix until the cheese is evenly combined. Cut the three slices of bacon in half and place three slices in the center of the meatloaf pan. Form the meat into a loaf shape and place on top of the bacon. Top the loaf with the other three halves of bacon.

Roast at 400° for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, turn oven down to 375° and roast for one hour or until the center has reached 150° with a meat thermometer. Every 15-20 minutes you can baste with the bacon drippings using a spoon. When meat loaf has reached 150 degrees, remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

While the meat is resting, warm the sauce.

Sauce directions:

Heat a small saucepan to medium-low. Add all the ingredients and gently stir to combine. Heat until warmed and serve with the meatloaf.




Grass-Fed Beef and Barley Soup

Dutch Belties, a dairy breed, at the FARM Institute, Martha’s Vineyard. These calves came from Grey Barn Farm in Chilmark.

In March, my husband and I spend a long weekend on Martha’s Vineyard relaxing, biking, and visiting farms. Martha’s Vineyard is so much more enjoyable when the summer people aren’t there to crowd the streets and beaches. We had beautiful weather and got to spend some time at South Beach in Katama.

A gorgeous day in March on South Beach, Katama.

On our way to South Beach we passed by an inviting sign on Aero Avenue. Needless to say, we quickly turned around, drove down the dusty dirt road past a few Cape style homes to the end of the road and landed at the FARM Institute. We were warmly greeted by Chrissy Kinsman, the Marketing and Development Director, who was pruning fruit trees right outside the barn. Chrissy gave us a tour of The FARM Institute, we were introduced to the farmers and a few staff, and then we talked some about sustainable farming and the FARM’s mission. After a couple hours of chatting, Todd and I were so impressed by what they are doing that we left left with 60 pounds of grass fed-grass finished beef, pasture raised pork, lamb, whole chickens, and 5 dozen eggs. The wagon was fully loaded! Make sure your meat is fully pasture raised, not just “grass-fed”. Look for grass finished and/or pasture raised. When it’s corn or grain finished it loses all of the healthful qualities. For more information on the health benefits of pasture raised meat, click here.

got pasture?

The meat is amazing. If you have not had pasture raised meat, you need to find some in your area. Go to if you don’t know where to start looking. Not only is pastured beef delicious, it’s much leaner and loaded with more heart-healthy nutrients and vitamins. The meat from the FARM Institute has its own terroir flavor – kind of like a wine that takes on the flavor of where it’s grown. We can’t get enough of the FARM’s meat. So…when my husband reminded me of his yearly father-daughter fishing trip was coming up, I decided to go back to the Vineyard and visit the FARM Institute again – with a bigger cooler.

American British White Park Cow (not a Galloway), a beef breed.

If you are interested in buying their meat when you’re on the Vineyard, you can pre-order online. They also do farmer’s market trips on the Cape. Call and check with them first to see where they’ll be. It’s so worth the trip. From their website:  “All of our meat is raised here at The FARM Institute.  All chicken and pork is pasture raised and all beef and lamb is 100% grass-fed. We use management intensive rotational grazing practices for all livestock ensuring the best life for our animals and our fields! We invite you to find out what most islanders already know–local food tastes better! All meat products are only available for pick up at The FARM Institute.  When you place your order we will assemble your purchase and get it ready for you to pick it up.  All of our meat products are frozen.  Poultry is processed on site; beef, pork and lamb are all processed at a USDA approved slaughterhouse in Rhode Island.”

See you in the fall, FARM Institute!

Beef Barley Soup

Total Cooking Time: 2 – 2.5 hours with a pressure cooker**

Makes large stockpot of soup


  • 2-3# grass fed, lean beef shank (about 4) or short ribs
  • 6T EVOO
  • 10C low-sodium beef stock (I like the unsalted, organic boxed ones)
  • 10 garlic cloves, 6 cut in half, 4 minced
  • 1C pearl barley
  • 1C full-bodied red wine
  • 1C chopped carrots (about 4-5 carrots)
  • 1C chopped onion (about 2 medium)
  • 1 box (26.5oz) of Pomi chopped tomatoes
  • 1T sea salt
  • 1T fresh, coarse ground pepper
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 10 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only


In a large pressure cooker on medium-high heat, heat the EVOO and brown the beef on both sides.  Add the wine to deglaze the pan, but watch out for a steam burn! Add enough of the beef stock to cover the meat, about 6 cups. Loosen the meat from the bottom of the pan if it’s stuck and try to scrape up any tasty bits of meat. Add the 6 halved garlic cloves, bay leaves, the tiny leaves from 6 sprigs of fresh thyme, the sea salt, and coarse ground pepper. Close and lock the lid, bring up to full pressure (look for the two white rings that pop up), then turn down the heat to simmer or low to maintain the pressure. Pressure cook for 1.5 hours. During this time the meat will fall off the bone and the healthy marrow will dissolve into the broth.

After 1.5 hours, shut the heat off, let the pressure come down on it’s own, open the cover of the pressure cooker, and let it rest for a few minutes. Strain the meat and stock over a large stockpot, letting the aromatic broth drain through, but catching the meat and bones in the sieve. Set meat and bones aside to cool.

Add the rest of the boxed beef stock, the box of Pomi chopped tomatoes, the leaves of thyme from the remaining thyme stems, 4 minced garlic cloves, and the barley.  Bring to a boil and turn to simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. This is the time to pick through the meat that you set aside.

After 30 minutes, add the carrots, onions, and meat. Simmer for another 30-45 minutes or until the barley is done cooking. I like the barley al-denté, but you may like it softer.

Adjust seasonings to your taste.

Serve with warm rolls, fresh butter, and a California Cabernet Sauvignon.

**I use a Fissler Blue Point Pressure Cooker, 8.5quart.

Note: You can use a slow cooker, but plan on a full day of slow-cooking, 6-8 hours, after you brown the beef in a skillet.

Barred Rocks are so pretty.
Interesting colors on this lamb.
Home of the Hens!
Just like old times…
Be nice.
Rough life.